Liam Fox ‘sell­ing out’ food and drink sec­tor

Scots de­nied veto in free trade deals

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - News - By Kieran An­drews kian­drews@sun­day­post.com

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox has been ac­cused of seek­ing to open a back door into Scot­land for sub-stan­dard food and drink.

The SNP claimed his bid to strike post-Brexit free trade deals with­out the ap­proval of the Scot­tish andWelsh gov­ern­ments would threaten the coun­try’s world-class sec­tor.

Dr Fox has writ­ten to Cabi­net col­leagues set­ting out four op­tions for de­volved gov­ern­ments’ roles in ne­go­ti­at­ing free trade agree­ments af­ter the UK leaves the Euro­pean Union, aWhite­hall source con­firmed.

One of them in­cludes mak­ing trade a re­served mat­ter for the UK Gov­ern­ment, which would shut out ad­min­is­tra­tions in Ed­in­burgh and Cardiff.

At the other end of the spec­trum is a pro­posal that a com­mon po­si­tion should be agreed with de­volved gov­ern­ments be­fore strik­ing a deal.

The Gov­ern­ment has not taken a de­ci­sion on which op­tion it prefers but media re­ports claim Dr Fox favours deny­ing Scot­land andWales a veto.

It adds that Tories wor­ried about the SNP scup­per­ing any free trade deals could back him.

Ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied (GM) foods - which are le­gal for cul­ti­va­tion in Eng­land and the United States but banned in Scot­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land – is one po­ten­tial flash­point in trade talks.

SNP In­ter­na­tional Trade spokes­woman Han­nah Bardell said: “The In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary wants to gam­ble with the fu­ture of our £14 bil­lion food and drink sec­tor and give him­self un­bri­dled power to al­low Amer­i­can chicken, beef and GM foods into the UK, thus over­rul­ing the de­ci­sion taken in Scot­land and Wales to ban the pro­duc­tion of GM foods.”

The row comes as the UK Gov­ern­ment re­vealed it will pub­lish five new Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions pa­pers this week.

Min­is­ters will em­pha­sise their de­sire for “the freest and most fric­tion­less trade pos­si­ble in goods and ser­vices” in the po­si­tion pa­per.

The Depart­ment for Ex­it­ing the Euro­pean Union said the pa­per sets out pro­pos­als “de­signed to pre­vent a cliff- edge for busi­nesses and con­sumers by pro­vid­ing early cer­tainty”.

A Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Trade spokesman said: “We have been very clear that we want a trade pol­icy that is i nclu­sive and trans­par­ent and which rep­re­sents the whole of the United King­dom.”

Liam Fox.

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